Governance and Self-Governance

by Michael McGinnis

All of my experiences in this world are only to help me to learn to live as a more aware spiritual being. Sometimes I get so caught up in the storms and joys of this life that I forget there is a much larger reality covered up by waking life, but which I can often see pieces of in dreams. But life has some pointed ways of reminding us what is important for us to learn.

With the federal election in the news, there is discussion about how our country is governed, not just by whom. I have found that the system of government is less important than how each of us governs himself. My problems, whether in my own life (or in dealing with government as a local politician) come from my own difficulty with self-governance or self-control.

When your self-control fails, you are often in line for a lesson. One of mine was in Ghana. I taught at a secondary school in a small town, with about 600 students at the school. The classrooms were arranged around a central grassy compound, and all the classes had many windows to take advantage of sunlight we seldom had electricity. As a result, everyone in the classrooms had a good view of events in the compound.

Formal exams are taken very seriously in Ghana, and teachers always supervise at exams. They prevent cheating, and otherwise maintain order. I was supervising an exam one day when a student came into the exam room to get something. He was being noisy and students were writing exams, so I asked him to be quiet. On his way out of the room he made a very rude gesture. I was quite angry at this and told the boy to come back. Instead he walked quickly out of the classroom. I ran to the doorway, which led directly outside, and shouted at the student to stop and come back. He kept walking away. This just made me more upset, so I started running after him and yelling for him to "stop!". Looking over his shoulder at me, the student saw me in pursuit, so he took off at great speed.

This must have been quite a sight a reserved, quiet Canadian teacher chasing a student off into the bush, shouting at the top of his lungs. As I chased the student across the school compound, a tremendous roar filled the air as all 600 throats in the area voiced comment on this spectacle. The price for my lack of self-control was a dose of humiliation. (Thank goodness I couldn't catch him he outweighed me and that could have been quite awkward!)

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